n 1688 William Dampier found the aboriginal inhabitants on the west coast of New Holland "the miserablest people in the world… setting aside their human shape, they differ but little from brutes". More than a hundred years later the British convict settlements on the east coast were still marked by misery: the harshness of a prison society, where “excessive tyranny each day prevails”. Material growth was bought slowly and painfully by the forced labour of prisoners whose defiance might be punished by a thousand lashes. What lies between these beginnings and the wellfed Australian surfriders who gaze proudly into the 1970s? Manning Clark sees in the story of Australia not only the surface of progress, but also the debates and struggles which lie behind the smiling compromises of Australian society today. He discusses the decision to send Australian troops to Vietnam, and the British government’s intended withdrawal from SouthEast Asia. And
he celebrates the recent achievement of Australian artists such as Sidney Nolan, Judith Wright and Patrick White.